Embrace Being a Mean LOVING Mom
As I was out running errands I watched a young girl, around the age 5 scream that she wanted the toy. Her Mother told her No. Of course, she began to cry and scream that she wanted it. You could see the instant stress on the mother's face as her child threw a fit. I kid you not the women picked up the child and gave her the toy. Instantly the tears were gone from the little girl and a huge smile on her face. Later, I watched them check out and go on with their day.
I've watched this scene happen over and over. Each time causes me to pause. Don't get me wrong, it is not my place to judge and I am by no means a perfect parent. We all have our own way of handling this parenting thing. Lord knows, I know those looks you get when your child is having a meltdown. I have been that parent who is fireman carrying her daughter over her shoulder while she is kicking, screaming, and crying trying to avoid her wrath. I have been the Mom saying "No", all knowing that the free fall of disappointment will ensue as my little one kicks and bang her hands on the floor. It's tough. It's not fun and yes, can be embarrassing. BUT...that's our job. Get it over it!
On any given day I am told that I am a Mean Mom. That I am horrible, rude, I should die, or wished away into oblivion. Yep. I got it. Blah, blah, blah. I have heard it so many times that it doesn't even phase me anymore. In fact, nowadays, I take it as a compliment. My job as Mom is not to be liked by my daughter 100% of the time. Nope. My job to help guide my child into become an active, healthy adult who can function in society. She needs to be independent, caring, and have the necessary skills to work and succeed in life. Period! And for the record I take my job very seriously.
That means I have to be the Mean LOVING Mom. I have to set expectations. I have to set boundaries. I have to be patient, yet firm. This weekend was no different. I could tell that Munchkin's sensitivity was running high, a time change that leads to nothing good, and us breaking our own rules only leads to chaos. When we let our guard down and don't keep up on the expectations, backlash WILL come. You have to be ready for that free fall and stand your ground. If we don't follow through our words, actions, and expectations mean nothing. Our children are so smart they will pick up on that and use it to their advantage.
We asked Samantha to clear off her desk so we could bring up a larger desk up from the basement for her. My word. You would have thought I asked her to cut off a limb. She refused. She kicked, she screamed. She spit on the floor. She kept saying it was my job to clean. <<--Say What?! She didn't want to clean. She didn't want to stop watching her YouTube Videos. (We had been lack on Sunday as she was up a 4:30 in the morning and been watching for quite some time.)
You can see where we have faltered. I have been doing most of the cleaning lately, while she is in school and Eric is at work so we can spend our evenings together. Whereas, in the summer when she was home she did a chore every single day. No questions asked and without resistance. We don't usually allow so much video watching, but with the early morning we had and by doing so we inadvertently removed the existing expectations. She was now disappointed, frustrated, and overwhelmed at the situation.
Interestingly enough this weekend we happen to catch an episode of Cesar 911. This show is where Cesar Milan, the dog Whisperer, helps sever cases of doggie behavior problems. I love what he says, "I rehabilitate dogs and I train people." During this particular episode this poor dog had been beaten and lost an eye from the previous owner. Thankfully, it was rescued from a shelter. Unfortunately, it lashes out at everyone and the current owners are terrified to the point that this dog has to wear a muzzle most of the time. As Cesar is working with the animal and the owner in this scene, Cesar wants the dog to jump up on the box and into the back of the vehicle. He is explaining that the dog is fighting back because it is scared, frustrated, and it doesn't know how to handle this situation. Cesar goes on to explain that being calm and assertive will help gain the trust of the dog, remove the tension, and we will get the behavior we want. After the dog calms, Cesar helps him to understand that the box he needs to step on is not scary. Just new. He only wants him to touch it and then get down. They repeat this several times until the dog is capable of happily jumping on the box and into the back of the vehicle.
This is much like our children. Our ability or inability to stay calm and assertive is what keeps us in control of the situation. Many times our children lash out, cry, scream, hit because they are scared, unsure, overwhelmed, disappointed, or frustrated at the situation they are in. Maybe the expectations weren't clear. Maybe its something or somewhere new. Whatever it is, our job is be the parent. They need our strength, our reassurance, our guidance, and our love to overcome in this world.
In our case, I got down to Samantha's level. I calmly told her that she has 20 minutes to clear her desk off or at that point I will clear the desk off by placing all the items in the trash. If we have items, we need to take care of them and put them away, or we don't need to have them. That's it. All I said and then waited. After much more resistance, she walked over and began to clear the desk. Would I have really thrown away her stuff? Yes and I have done it before. She knew that. Was I mean? No. Firm? Yes. And when it was all over our day went on fine. We snuggled,crafted, and worked on our new puzzle.
Will I be a mean mom tomorrow at some point? Probably. But that's okay. Being a LOVING mean Mom is the best blessing. Keep it up Momma's. You are doing just fine.